Every woman has deities inside her. Inner deities can change our lives if we learn to recognize them, listen to them and follow them, avoiding the conflicts and titanic wars they can create in our inner being. Inner deities are archetypes.
Do you know what archetypes are?
Archetypes are behavioural models belonging to the collective unconscious, not simple symbols but the essence that gives them life, allowing them to exist in time.
They are present in myths, fairy tales, legends all over the world and they often come to visit us in dreams to help us build an individual consciousness; they hide great energy and manifest themselves everywhere.
Carl Gustav Jung described them as follows: “No archetype is reducible to simple formulas. The archetype is like a vase that can never be emptied or filled. In itself, it exists only in power, and when it takes shape in a given material, it is no longer the same as before. It persists through the millennia and yet always requires new interpretations. Archetypes are unshakable elements of the unconscious, but they change form continuously”.
According to Jung and Jean S. Bolen, there are archetypal models linked to the deities of ancient Greece, both male and female, which symbolize the energy and instinct that each of us has.
For women, there are seven deities, these goddesses are not mutually exclusive, and they should never compete with each other. Some of these divinities are more manifest than others, depending on existential periods and personal characteristics, and all of them have precious gifts and teachings to give us.
Usually, there is one primary archetype, and then the others that coexist together, but sometimes the primary archetype can be repressed, for example, by specific education, or by social rules, which induce the woman to suffocate her true nature.
For this reason, it is essential to be aware of one’s inner deities and to know their characteristics, to integrate those we need or to free those repressed.
When we feel tormented and agitated, there is a conflicting situation between the deities and this creates imbalance; once we learn to recognize the inner goddesses, then we can listen to them and understand how they influence us.
Which One is Your Inner Deity?
Goddess of hunting, of wildlife, symbolizes the need for independence and freedom. The Artemis-woman is autonomous, able to take care of herself, courageous, competitive, able to achieve her goals with determination. She is contemptuous, in some cases, of vulnerability, hostile to those who get in her way when she wants to reach a goal. Artemis’ weak point is the unconscious, towards which the woman with this archetype is not very receptive.
The goddess of wisdom and crafts, the Athena-woman is intellectual. She is determined, able to maintain control even in the most critical situations, objective and ambitious, hyper-organized—weak point: Athena risks neglecting the heart part of herself as well as the body. A repressed Athena-woman instead tends to disguise herself behind a cynical and insensitive appearance. In love, she prefers relationships of complicity and solidarity rather than passionate involvement. She is a tireless worker and must learn to integrate the childish part, a little suffocated in her, that is the innocence that distinguishes children and their ability to be moved without fear.
The goddess of the hearth, she symbolizes the sacred fire that heats every home. She is a pure archetype, deeply spiritual, complete in itself, capable of inner concentration and very intuitive. The Hestia-woman loves to be alone, dedicating herself in various ways to her house, keeping it clean; in fact, through housework, she keeps her inner life in order. She is not an ambitious woman; she is not projected outside; she prefers her interiority—a weak point: loneliness, isolation, the tendency not to feel comfortable in unfamiliar environments. From a sentimental point of view, she is not very passionate and, although she is a woman of the house, she knows how to feel very well even alone, without a man. The Hestia-woman must learn to integrate her male side, which can help her to act in certain situations. She also needs to learn how to express herself with the outside world.
She is the goddess of marriage, married to Zeus, who was unfaithful to her. That is why Hera was venting her anger against her husband’s lovers. The Hera-woman needs a companion in life and would do anything to keep him to herself. She is attracted to powerful men or men in need of warmth. She is not very interested in work; she feels complete through marriage and is not even tied to friendships. She is rather angry if abandoned or hurt and tends to be the victim. In her destructive side, the Hera-woman is hostile towards other women and is willing to do anything to continue her marriage; she is judgmental and vindictive as well as jealous. She needs to learn to be more independent of her husband and to channel her anger and jealousy.
Goddess of harvest, she symbolizes the maternal instinct that can manifest itself not only with children but also with an attitude of welcome, generosity towards others; the woman Demeter loves to host many people, friends and family at home. Weak point: feeling empty when children leave home, in general, she is very protective, generous, altruistic. She loves immature men, in need of protection, she loves cuddling rather than real sexual intercourse. In her work, she is neither competitive nor ambitious and is often involved in professions related to teaching or caring for the sick. At times, she may experience depression and victimization, ending up as a victim of the Red Cross Nurse Syndrome (which is the tendency to fix everything and take care of others despite themselves). She needs to learn to express anger, to say no, and to let go.
The Queen of the Underworld is a goddess with a dual identity. She is both Persephone and Kore. The Persephone part is mature and self-confident, she reigns over the dead guiding the living into the underworld, that is, she knows how to move between the ego and the unconscious. The Kore part is that of the immature young girl who does not know who she is and what her potential is; she tends to be passive. From the sentimental point of view, she waits for Prince Charming and assumes a childish behaviour. She tends to frequently change her job, with a playful and irresponsible attitude towards life. If the Kore part activates the Persephone part, then she matures, but this usually happens when she is forced to face life with her strength, without support. Weak point: she can become too narcissistic, depressed, anxious to please others.
Goddess of love and beauty, she symbolizes the power of transformation and creation. The Aphrodite-woman is attractive and sensual, magnetic, extrovert, lives in the present, is very connected to the senses. She naturally attracts men, but, if repressed, she tends to feel guilty. She is very seductive, and it is difficult for her to remain faithful to a single companion, she does not like repetitive jobs, she prefers creative professions. She is elegant by nature and therefore not much loved by other women. If she falls in love with men who do not want her enough, she tends to become obsessed with the bond. She must learn to be more emotionally detached from relationships so as not to risk being sucked into them.
My Favorite Archetype: The Wise Woman (or Great Mother)
There is another archetype, very powerful: the Wise Woman. In the collective imagination, wise women resemble a little bit like witches, and I believe that this is so, because after all these women are often nonconformist; they live according to their aspirations and mock the dictates of patriarchal society. They help people to discover their uniqueness and spirituality.
Who are the wise women? They are women who have walked an often tortuous path, made up of lessons and profoundly transformative experiences, which have taken them on the road to inner maturity.
Wisdom means awareness and is not measured in years of life. There are wise women, even 25 years old! They are the ones who, when they were little girls, suffered tough blows but found within them the strength to get up and felt in their hearts the urge to help others.
We have many examples of Wise Women, even in our recent history. My thoughts immediately fly to Maya Angelou, Frida Kahlo, Mary Wollstonecraft, but also to Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey, to name a few. If you think of a female character you like, you could trace her back to this archetype, or to one of the goddesses I described earlier, and you will be surprised to find exactly these characteristics.
According to Jean S. Bolen, an internationally renowned psychologist and author, wise women are part of the Great Mother archetype. We think of a strong female figure, for example, a grandmother who behaves maternally with all children and wants the best for all of them, not only for her children or grandchildren.
The 13 Rules of Wise Women
According to Jean S. Bolen, thirteen rules identify the Wise Women:
1. Wise women do not live to complain; they create change.
2. Wise women are brave.
3. Wise women have green thumb with plants.
4. Wise women trust their intuition and respect that of others.
5. Wise women meditate every day and are in communication with their inner selves.
6. Wise women firmly defend what they consider essential.
7. Wise women also choose their path with their hearts.
8. Wise women speak the truth with compassion.
9. Wise women listen to their bodies.
10. Wise women extemporize and play.
11. Wise women do not beg.
12. Wise women laugh together.
13. Wise women appreciate the positive in life and share it with simplicity.
Have you already identified your archetype? It certainly takes a little bit of inner analysis and a lot of listening to ourself, we need to connect with our spirituality and become aware of the existence of these elements in us.
Many confuse spirituality with religion, but they are two different things.
Spirituality is our most important dimension, and many times (too many) underestimated.
Spirituality means to love oneself and the others, to focus on one’s breath, on the deep silence within, and to find the source of our light. It means getting lost in a forest or admiring a sunrise. Cherish the sea or a flower garden. It means nourishing the soul with beauty and poetry.
Every time we get away from our spirituality, we feel lost, and our body advises us, sending signals such as anxiety, panic, pain, sadness, depression. They are deceptions of the mind to bring us back to the point where we are lost.
Cultivating spirituality means not allowing external events to obscure our light, to lose the joy to live. For this reason, we must always act with love and kindness and nourish our souls so that we can benefit others, giving them positivity, energy, inspiration, motivation.
Precisely in this journey to the (re)discovery of my spirituality, I learned to listen to my inner deity and began to make my true nature re-emerge. I changed everything: lifestyle, work, negative people and I started to build a better version of myself. I reinvented myself, and I am immensely satisfied with my choice.
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“That a woman who continues to enrich her wisdom must constantly find new roots in the spiritual life is an extreme act of liberation. Teaching young people to do the same – and by “young people,” I mean anyone with less awareness or less experience – is the greatest radical and revolutionary act.”(Clarissa Pinkola Estés)
Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen